Andover’s New Sport: Creative Writing

For the less athletically-inclined members of the community, Andover will soon offer creative writing as a means of fulfilling the sport requirement beginning in Spring Term.

Kathryn McQuade, Instructor in English and published author, will lead the new alternative offering. She hopes to provide a creative space for aspiring writers on campus in which they can share their ideas and critique each other’s work.

“I’ve had a number of students say to me through the years that they really love writing for fun, and it’s hard to find time to do that at [Andover]. That to me, as a writer, is really sad. I want to find a way for writers to have this community and the time and the accountability to get their writing done for fun,” said McQuade.

Leon Modeste, Director and Instructor in Athletics and Varsity Football Coach, approved the idea after McQuade presented it to him earlier this year. Although creative writing differs from other sports in terms of how it fulfills the athletic requirement, Modeste believes that as long as it is led with passion, it should be given a chance.

“I always like ideas that my colleagues are really enthusiastic about, and if I can make that happen or at least give it a shot, I do it. That’s how fencing started here. That’s how ultimate started here: one of our colleagues was really psyched about it — Mr. Hoenig — and we’re like, ‘Let’s try it.’ Now, it’s a full-fledged varsity sport, so who knows where things go,” said Modeste.

The sport will meet three times a week. In addition to writing and engaging in workshop-style discussions once a week, students will take walks around places on campus, such as the Cochran Bird Sanctuary, in an effort to jumpstart their creative processes. McQuade is interested in exploring how movement stimulates literary thought.

“I figure stuff out when I’m walking or running. That’s true for every single writer I know, but we don’t talk about that as often as we should. That movement is a really important part of writing,” said McQuade.

Diva Harsoor ’18, a current student of McQuade, said, “I think it’s a really cool idea because I read the description, and it said they were going to do nature walks and that sort of thing. I’m a really big fan of writing to your real experience and actually observing the world around you and using that to help you write.”

For students who are avid writers like Harsoor, the new sport will offer a creative outlet to better their work by using the natural world as inspiration.

Rhea Chandran ’19 said, “Having a creative writing course offered as a sport is really interesting because it lets students take away time from academics and just have a release. Where a lot of students find that in athletics, this is a great other option for students who really just want to write.”

According to McQuade, the established presence of other less-conventional athletic offerings, such as Music Basics and Theater Basics, encouraged her to examine the potential of a similar option for writers.

“It’s similar to Music Basics in that it’s a sport meant for people who are really dedicated to creative writing in the same way Music Basics is a sport for people who are really dedicated to music. The sport is meant to help students improve their artistic practice with athleticism,” said McQuade.

McQuade was also motivated to introduce the new option because she noticed a lack of classes in creative writing for underclassmen. Although there are clubs for students who want to get involved in creative writing, there are few academic offerings for non-Seniors.

“The creative writing classes we offer here are generally reserved for Seniors. There are a lot of great creative writing clubs on campus, but I want there to be more opportunities for students to work with each other and to work with a teacher on their creative writing if they’re really serious about it,” McQuade said.